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Guardiola feels for City stars who missed Champions League run


Pep Guardiola is "incredibly proud" to reach the UEFA Champions League final but quickly turned his focus to the other Manchester City players who have served him well over the past five years.

City won 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday (AEST) with a brace from Riyad Mahrez to clinch a 4-1 aggregate success in the semi-final.

Premier League leaders City will appear in the final for the first time in their history, taking on Chelsea or Real Madrid.

The defeat of PSG ends a long wait including repeated heartbreaks in the knockout stages of the competition, prompting Guardiola to believe the only difference this season was the fortune on City's side.

That meant he reflected again on past pain and how "unfair" it is for some notable City names to miss out.

Modern greats Vincent Kompany and David Silva both played key roles under Guardiola but left prior to this season's European run.

"People believe it's easy to arrive in the Champions League [final]," the City manager told BT Sport. "People believe because it happened in the past, I have to arrive every year in the final of the Champions League.

"Unfortunately, getting to the final of the Champions League now makes sense (of) what we have done the last four years or five years, with a lot of people.

"This is a little bit unfair. Every day, these guys are consistent, these guys have shown the last five years in every competition. This is remarkable.

"I said before, this competition is like this: we won the first game because we shoot between the hips of the opponent.

"Today it was the post for Marquinhos and maybe the penalty is given, even when it's of course not a penalty, and you are out for these little details.

"United won a Champions League because Terry's slippy, you know? United won in the last minute at Camp Nou against Bayern Munich, this competition.

"Madrid won against Atletico Madrid in 93 minutes. It's a competition that is so difficult. There's something, the stars are involved in that.

"But we won 11 games in this competition, just a draw with Porto. We made an incredible Champions League and we have three weeks to prepare for the final."

City have won their last seven Champions League matches – the longest-ever winning run by an English team in European Cup/Champions League history. Indeed, City are also the first English side to win 11 games in a single European Cup/Champions League campaign.

Kompany and some of his other teammates were not the only City stars unable to make significant contributions on Wednesday, with record goalscorer Sergio Aguero only a substitute, along with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.

Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo and Rodri – vital in the past two seasons – were not even called from the bench.

"I'm incredibly proud," Guardiola said. "But my first thought is always for the players who didn't play today.

"I know for them it is so tough, they deserve to play, but everyone makes their contribution in this Champions League season.

"Now it's time to enjoy it. We have one step to the Premier League and then two or three weeks to prepare the final."

PSG finished with 10 men after Angel Di Maria kicked out at Fernandinho, while tempers frayed and further red cards might have followed.

Guardiola – who ended a run of four consecutive Champions League semi-final eliminations, reaching the final for the first time since 2010-11 with Barcelona – said:: "They are huge competitors. They were the team who were runners up last season, in the French league they win every year. It's a team built to stay there.

"The mentality, all of them are huge competitors. They fought until the end – [Marco] Verratti's a big example, [Leandro] Paredes, Neymar, all of them, a huge, huge team.

"But we were so, so composed. We suffered together, defended inside so well, and we did it. We are in the final of the Champions League, these are nice words."

Source Omnisport